Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Keep Costs of Death Low -- Be Organized

Image Credit:  www.sxc.hu - free image

People often ask me what they can do to keep the expenditure of time and money low when the die; no one wants to leave a mess for loved ones.  Being organized is the key ingredient I recommend.  Whether you have a few hundred dollars or millions, organization will make the distribution process so much easier.

This point is illustrated in a recent news story out of Carson City.  A recluse died with only $200 in his checking account, but between $7 and $10 million in coins .  His nearest living relative is a first cousin, who stands to inherit under state law (he appears to have not had a will, so statutory distribution is the default).  But where is she?

If you died next week, how easy would it be for your personal representative to find your heirs?  Are the addresses and phone numbers stored on your Smart Phone?  If so, would the PR be able to bring them up?  High tech is great, but when someone dies, all systems are not GO.  My low tech approach is to have a print out of my holiday list labels -- they are all people who should be contacted upon my death.  The addresses are a simple way for the PR to send a letter. Yes, it is old school.  But it is functional if I die.

Other important addresses that should be in hard copy form are: your personal representative, trustee if any (we have a trustee nominated if both my husband and I die; a trust would be created for our minor children); suggestions for friends who would take in our cats; and any back-ups.

Thanks for reading, and I'll be back tomorrow for more thoughts on illness, death and taxes for the middle class.

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